MLS

Chiellini loving Los Angeles life as Italy great sets sights on MLS Cup triumph

By Sports Desk December 07, 2023

Giorgio Chiellini has discovered a new love for football with Los Angeles FC as the Italian centre-back aims to guide his side to a second straight MLS Cup triumph.

The Columbus Crew will prove the final obstacle on Saturday in LAFC's quest to go back-to-back with MLS Cup successes, having defeated the Philadelphia Union on penalties in last season's final.

Chiellini has lifted nine Serie A titles and helped Italy win Euro 2020, but the hunger remains for the 39-year-old to add another success in the United States to his trophy-filled cabinet.

"I'm enjoying every day I spend here – training and everything," the former Juventus defender, who joined LAFC in 2022, told Stats Perform.

"It's my life. I love what I do. I've watched more MLS games this year and a half than most of my team-mates in their career and I love that.

"But it's not something I do for me. It's something normal. It's my way of life, this job, I live this life. I'm enjoying it a lot and there's no heavy situation for me about this stuff, I just enjoy it and it's very fun."

Chiellini created the opening goal as Los Angeles booked their place in the MLS Cup Final with a 2-0 win over Houston Dynamo, with his flick-on from a corner-kick finding Ryan Hollingshead.

Their final challenge comes against the Crew in what will be the 53rd game of the season for Steve Cherundolo's LAFC, who were knocked out of the Leagues Cup in the quarter-final and suffered CONCACAF Champions League final heartbreak against Mexico's Club Leon.

Columbus' Lower.com Field hosts the MLS Cup showpiece, offering Wilfried Nancy's men an edge of home advantage, but Chiellini fancies Los Angeles' chances after two hard-fought campaigns.

"We are so happy because last year was a different journey," the veteran centre-back continued. "We were top of the league all season, playoffs for just three games before the World Cup. That was easier.

"We skipped the first round. We played all the games at home and it was very different. This year we pushed harder until June because of the CONCACAF Champions League where we lost the final.

"We spent a lot of energy on that, we had some injuries, some periods where we were not so focused.

"But we arrived in good condition for the playoff in the third game [against Houston]. We fought till the end for the second [goal] that I think we deserved for what we showed during the season.

"We won in Vancouver, we won in Seattle, and now to lift the cup, we have to win in Columbus, and we know how hard it will be, but we are very happy to be here.

"We respect that team a lot and the way they play, that style of play, the players, but for sure we want to go there and try to go as far as possible to win."

Related items

  • Haynes high on confidence as young Soca Warriors ready to kick off U-20 Champs against St Vincent and the Grenadines Haynes high on confidence as young Soca Warriors ready to kick off U-20 Champs against St Vincent and the Grenadines

    Trinidad and Tobago Head coach Brian Haynes is exuding confidence that his young Soca Warriors should open their Concacaf under-20 Championship qualifiers account with victory over St Vincent and the Grenadines at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on Friday.

    The young Soca Warriors, which recently wrapped up their preparation phase, now has the much-anticipated opportunity to impress both their coach and fans on home soil. They lock horns with St Vincent and the Grenadines in the Group D feature game at 6:00pm, after group favourites Canada meet Dominica in the 3:00pm curtain-raiser.

    With only the group winner to progress to the Championship round where they will join the confederation's top-six ranked teams, United States, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica and Dominican Republic, Haynes is well aware that his team has no room for mistakes throughout the campaign.

    "We are preparing for the first game. That is it. Nothing means anything unless we play that first game and do what we have to do to win that game," Haynes told T&T Football Association (TTFA) media.

    "No disrespect to St Vincent or whoever we are going to play, but that is our focus – winning that first game," he added.

    After their opening game against St Vincent and the Grenadines, the young Soca Warriors play Dominica on Sunday, before ending the group assignment against Canada on February 27. All games will be played at the Mucurapo venue.

    Haynes, who included seven overseas-based players in his 21-member squad, admitted to knowing little about their opponents.

    "(We have not been able to get much information on other teams), which is fine. It is really quiet out there. It made me more determined to prepare my team the way we have to play, the tactician shared.

    With 11 of the players being those that represented the twin island republic at last year's Concacaf under-17 championship, there is some cohesion and intensity in Haynes's side, which he believes the overseas-based players have strengthened. The overseas-based players are goalkeeper Ailan Panton, striker Larry Noel, attacking midfielder Derrel Garcia and English-born flanker Rio Cardines, a Crystal Palace youth player.

    "The level of professionalism is one thing, and the level of play is another thing. The body of work these guys bring to the group is awesome," Haynes said.

    "They are not here to be casual. They are here working hard and giving their best. What it has done is lift the level of all the players," he noted.

    Haynes promised possession-oriented football with a purpose, as he underlined the significance of keeping clean sheets in the qualifiers, especially given the quality of his defensive group.

    "(The fans) are going to meet a bunch of players who are very hard-working. Second of all, they are going to meet a bunch of players who play for each other. Thirdly and most importantly, (the fans will see) a team that wants to win and entertain T&T," Haynes ended.

  • Jamaica’s football legends to be honoured at 2024 All-Star Football Tournament Jamaica’s football legends to be honoured at 2024 All-Star Football Tournament

     

    Former national football players Allan ‘Skill’ Cole and Walter ‘Blacka Pearl’ Boyd will be honoured at the inaugural staging of the 2024 All Star Football Tournament, set for Sunday, February 25, 2024 at the Constant Spring Football Field in St. Andrew.

    The winners of the two playoffs will receive trophies named in honour of Cole and Boyd, who represented Jamaica at the highest level on the national and international arena. 

    Both Cole and Boyd will be on-hand to present the trophies to the winning teams. The respective trophies will remain with the team coaches for one year.

    Competition Director Haron Martin said the training sessions have been going well and the players are in high spirits as they look forward to Sunday’s games.

    “The players are excited about the tournament. They are very focused and have been preparing well to represent their teams and showcase their talent,” Martin said.

    “We are also upbeat about the tournament, and we anticipate that the players will get the kind of exposure that they deserve,” he added.

    An All-Prep team will square off against an All-Primary team; while at the Under14 level; the teams will consist of schools north grouped and south grouped of Kingston combined together. They will compete against each other for trophy bragging rights.

    According to Tournament Director, Leighton Davis, the competition will showcase the best youth talents that will prove to be an exciting and entertaining showpiece for the spectators.

    “This tournament is to highlight and reward players who have done well throughout the season. These types of games will help players develop and improve because they are playing against the best of the best,” Davis said.

    Main sponsor for the event is Project 2 Project Consultancy; with MDS Limited, the hydration sponsor and 876 Stream the social media sponsor, Blacktie Images and Insight Studios.

    Gates open at 1:00pm with games being played 2:30pm and 4:00pm respectively.

  • AC Milan progress in Europa League despite Rennes fightback AC Milan progress in Europa League despite Rennes fightback

    AC Milan held off a stirring comeback by Rennes to book their place in the Europa League last 16.

    The Italian side looked to have the job done after last week’s 3-0 first-leg win at the San Siro, but the Ligue 1 outfit gave them a scare on home soil, with Benjamin Bourigeaud’s hat-trick sealing a 3-2 victory in the second leg.

    Milan goals from Luka Jovic and Rafael Leao proved pivotal as they secured a 5-3 aggregate win to go into the hat for Friday’s draw.

    Rennes knew they would have to make early inroads into their deficit if they were to have any chance of repairing the damage from a harrowing night in Milan last week.

    And they enjoyed the dream start as they went ahead in the 10th minute.

    Bourigeaud received the ball in the centre of the pitch, took a touch and then drilled a scorching low effort into the bottom corner.

    Milan were able to weather the early storm and got a crucial leveller in the 21st minute to restore their three-goal advantage.

    Tijjani Reijnders burst forward and teed up Theo Hernandez to send in an inviting cross which an unmarked Jovic powered home with his head.

    The hosts came again and thought they had made it 2-1 soon after but Arnaud Kalimuendo’s effort hit Mike Maignan without the Milan goalkeeper knowing too much about it.

    The French side did go back in front in the 54th minute when Bourigeaud got his second of the match, converting from the penalty spot after Martin Terrier had been fouled by Simon Kjaer.

    But they were again pegged back four minutes later as Milan made it 2-2 thanks to a fine Leao strike, the Portugal international guiding into the corner after a fine solo run.

    Bourigeaud claimed the matchball as Rennes took the lead for the third time in the match as he again emphatically scored from the penalty spot after VAR had spotted a foul by Jovic.

    That left them with 22 minutes of normal time to try and muster two goals and, although they attacked with intent and bluster they could not forge any real chances.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.